Time is running out for tax planning 2019-20

A reminder that in just a few months the present tax year closes, 5 April 2020.

After this date, a whole raft of 2019-20 tax planning options for individuals will cease to be available.

These cover a multitude of opportunities to reduce your liability to Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax and National Insurance. These opportunities include, but are not limited to:

  • Remuneration choices for director/shareholders of small companies,
  • Pension planning,
  • Tax effective gifts to charities,
  • Repaying certain benefits to employers – for example, repaying any private petrol provided,
  • Reviewing tax efficient use of investment allowances – planning capital expenditure,
  • Maximising use of the “trivial benefits” exemption,
  • Gifting income producing assets to spouse or civil partner,
  • Considering options if your total annual income is approaching £100,000 for the first time. Income over this figure will trigger a gradual reduction in your personal tax allowance.

We cannot list all of the available options here. Each person’s financial affairs are to some extent unique.

If you have not yet considered your options, please call so we can act before it’s too late.

Flood support

The government announced 13 November that it will extend its Farming Recovery Fund to support farmers badly affected by the recent flooding across Yorkshire and the Midlands. Through this scheme, farmers and land managers who have suffered uninsurable damage to their property will be able to apply for grants of between £500 and £25,000 to cover repair costs – whether that’s clearing debris or recovering damaged land.

Householders affected will need to contact brokers and insurers – if supplied direct – to start the weary process of claims for flood damage. This in addition to dealing with the distressing upheaval caused by extensive water damage.

In the past HMRC has been supportive if tax-payers cannot make returns or pay tax due to flood disruption. They will also be sympathetic if business or tax records are lost due to water damage.

There is a pretty comprehensive flood alert service on the Gov.uk website and it is possible to register for a flood alert. These can be sent to your mobile, email address or landline. The service is free to use.

Christmas gifts

You don’t have to pay tax on a benefit (gift) to your employee if all of the following apply:

  • it cost you £50 or less to provide
  • it isn’t cash or a cash voucher
  • it isn’t a reward for their work or performance
  • it isn’t in the terms of their contract

Gifts that fall into this category are known as a ‘trivial benefit’; and whilst they may be much more than trivial in substance, you don’t need to pay tax or National Insurance or let HMRC know you are making the gift.

Any gifts that do not meet this definition will likely be taxable.

Gifts to directors are treated in a similar fashion with one over-riding condition: a director cannot receive trivial gifts of more than £300 in total each tax year. This restriction only applies to the directors of “close companies”. A close company is a limited company with five or fewer shareholders.

Watch out for VAT charge

If you recover the input tax charged when you buy gifts for employees, and if the total value of gifts given to an employee in a tax year exceeds £50, then you will have to account for VAT on the total value of gifts provided. If this is the case, you may be advised to avoid recovering the VAT in the first place.

Obtain proof of employment history

If you need evidence of employment for a claim, the following notes published by HMRC may help.

You can ask HMRC for a record of your employment history, for example if you are making a compensation claim for:

  • an industrial injury (for example asbestosis or industrial deafness)
  • a road traffic accident
  • medical negligence
  • hardship (for example you’re claiming through a benevolent fund or charity)

How to get your employment history

Fill in the application form that is available on the gov.uk website and send it to HMRC. The address is on the form.

Apply for an employment history on behalf of someone who has died

You can also apply to get the employment history of someone who has died if you are legally entitled to claim damages on behalf of their estate.

If you are wary of undertaking the task, we can help.

Tax Diary December 2019/January 2020

1 December 2019 – Due date for Corporation Tax payable for the year ended 28 February 2019.

19 December 2019 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 December 2019. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 December 2019)

19 December 2019 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 December 2019.

19 December 2019 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 December 2019 is payable by today.

30 December 2019 – Deadline for filing 2018-19 self-assessment tax returns online to include a claim for under payments to be collected via tax code in 2020-21.

1 January 2020 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 March 2019.

19 January 2020 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 January 2020. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 January 2020)

19 January 2020 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 January 2020.

19 January 2020 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 January 2020 is payable by today.

31 January 2020 – Last day to file 2018-19 self-assessment tax returns online.

31 January 2020 – Balance of self-assessment tax owing for 2018-19 due to be settled on or before today. Also due is any first payment on account for 2019-20.

Taxing aspects of electric cars for your business

This article does not cover the risks of owning an electric car, depreciation rates etc. Instead it discusses the tax implications if you buy an electric car for business purposes.

As electric cars have zero carbon emissions for tax purposes it should be possible to claim what is called a “first year allowance” when the car is purchased from new. Effectively, this means that you can write-off up to 100% of the cost of the car against your business profits in the year that you buy the vehicle.

This allowance is only available for new vehicle purchases. If you buy a used electric car for business, you can only claim a “main rate” writing down allowance of 18%.

Additionally, self-employed traders will need to reduce their claim for either of these allowances if there is any private use of the vehicle.

When the car is sold, if you have claimed the 100% first year allowance then all of the proceeds of sale will be taxable as a balancing charge. The balancing charge will be reduced if there is any private use.

If you have the use of an electric company car, it will still attract a car benefit charge for the driver and a National Insurance charge for the employer, albeit at the lowest rates.

The ability to be able to write-off the cost of a car in the year of purchase is appealing as this boosts the initial cash-flow benefits of going-electric.

And, of course, there are environmental considerations…

Gifts and Inheritance Tax

When you make a gift to third parties you are potentially transferring part of your estate and a life-time charge to IHT may be applied.

However, in most cases you will not need to open your cheque book as there are a number of exemptions that may cover your intended gifts.

The current gift exemptions are reproduced below.

You can give away £3,000 worth of gifts each tax year (6 April to 5 April) without them being added to the value of your estate. This is known as your ‘annual exemption’.

You can carry any unused annual exemption forward to the next year – but only for one year.

Each tax year, you can also give away:

  • wedding or civil ceremony gifts of up to £1,000 per person (£2,500 for a grandchild or great-grandchild, £5,000 for a child)
  • normal gifts out of your income, for example Christmas or birthday presents – you must be able to maintain your standard of living after making the gift
  • payments to help with another person’s living costs, such as an elderly relative or a child under 18
  • gifts to charities and political parties

You can use more than one of these exemptions on the same person – for example, you could give your grandchild gifts for her birthday and wedding in the same tax year.

You can give as many gifts of up to £250 per person as you want during the tax year as long as you have not used another exemption on the same person.

Even if your gift is not excluded by these exemptions any tax payable can be deferred under the “potentially exempt transfer” or PETs. Essentially, as long as the person making the gift lives seven years after making the gift, no IHT is payable. A sliding scale applies if the donor dies during this seven year period.

Working after State Pension age

It is fine to keep working past your State Retirement Age unless your employment is subject to retirement at a compulsory retirement age. If your employer does this, they must give a good reason, for example the job requires certain physical abilities (e.g. in the construction industry) or the job has an age limit set by law (e.g. the fire service).

To be clear, a forced retirement age of 65 no longer exists.

You can also ask your employer if you can work more flexibly or work part-time. They have the right to reject your request.

You can claim your State pension while you are working, as long as you’ve reached the State Pension age. You can also work if you are claiming a personal or workplace pension. However, check with your pension provider or employer if you have a workplace pension as reducing your working hours could affect how much pension you will receive. You should also check to see what happens to your workplace pension if you continue working beyond the age when you can take it.

If you delay (defer) taking your State Pension, you will get larger weekly payments when you do start taking your pension.

A bonus

You don’t pay National Insurance if you work past State Pension age.

Selling shares?

As a general rule, if you sell shares for more than you paid for them, any profit you make will be chargeable to Capital Gains Tax (CGT).

Shares and investments you may need to pay tax on include:

  • shares that are not in an ISA or PEP
  • units in a unit trust
  • certain bonds (not including Premium Bonds and Qualifying Corporate Bonds).

CGT will not usually be payable if you give shares as a gift to your husband, wife, civil partner or a charity.

You also do not pay Capital Gains Tax when you dispose of:

  • shares you’ve put into an ISA or PEP
  • shares in employer Share Incentive Plans (SIPs)
  • UK government gilts (including Premium Bonds)
  • Qualifying Corporate Bonds
  • employee shareholder shares – depending on when you got them

The amount of CGT payable will depend on your other earnings in the tax year. You may also be able to claim other reliefs if you are selling shares in a business that you control.

Finally, we are all entitled to make tax-free capital gains each tax year. For 2019-20, the CGT annual exemption is £12,000.

Tax Diary November/December 2019

1 November 2019 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 31 January 2019.

19 November 2019 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for the month ended 5 November 2019. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 November 2019.)

19 November 2019 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 November 2019.

19 November 2019 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 November 2019 is payable by today.

1 December 2019 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 28 February 2019.

19 December 2019 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for the month ended 5 December 2019. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 December 2019)

19 December 2019 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 December 2019.

19 December 2019 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 December 2019 is payable by today.

30 December 2019 – Deadline for filing 2018-19 self-assessment tax returns online to include a claim for under payments to be collected via tax code in 2020-21.